Listen to the SD Bell's Story on the #LET'S GET REAL Podcast

Our very own Robert Bell was recently featured in an episode of the McKeever Hotels podcast ‘#LET'S GET REAL’.

On the podcast Robert, shares the story of the birth of the family business, the hardships and achievements along the way in its 135-year history. He also touches on what the future holds and succession planning for the 5th generation!

This is a really interesting conversation and really worth a listen for any SD Bell customer!

Listen to the podcast using the player below.

Fond memories

We have been struck by the many messages of support from friends near and far, following Barry’s sad passing. I am reminded of one of the many stories he told from the 70 years he spent at SD Bell’s, and one, which was also prominent in our 125th Anniversary Book “Creating a Stir” is this one:

The post-war years were certainly a time of commercial growth. Barry Bell would tell of the time in the late fifties, and early sixties when SD Bell’s had contracts with the Admiralty to provision warships from Britain, Spain and France, that frequently called in to Belfast Port to top up their supplies.

These ships ranged from submarines to destroyers to frigates but the occasion of this story centres on the Canadian aircraft carrier HMCS Bonaventure [VAC1] paying a return visit to Belfast. She had been built by Harland & Wolff in 1943 with the name HMS Powerful, and may also have undergone a refit at this time.

The usual format was for Bell’s to supply the ordered goods as speedily as possible and then in their own time forward the account to the Admiralty in quadruple. This time, however, things went rather differently, and having been on the quayside at 6.30 supervising the arrival of lorry loads of milk, vegetables, Bramley apples, along with multitudinous other items, including of course, coffee and tea, 24-year old Barry was sitting in the office relaxing, peacefully content in the knowledge of a huge task successfully completed, when a telephone message came informing him that the carrier was leaving on the tide in two hours, and would he please come down with the bill for payment, as this ship must now pay its own way!

Frantically the account was written up and Barry rushed to the dockside. Most of the gang planks were away, and as he found his way on board, past a huge refrigerated store where there were hanging hundreds of sides of meat, and deep down through the vast ship to the Pursers office, he could feel the mighty rumble of the awakening engines. The Purser opened a safe the size of a garden shed and started handing out bundles of £5 notes!

A quick handshake and a ‘good luck’ by both parties, and Barry retraced his labyrinthine steps to the about-to-be-lifted gangplank, and ashore. At once, alone and vulnerable standing on the quayside with armfuls of notes, he set out on the long walk through Sailortown to the security of Company Headquarters.


Sad News

Barry Bell

It is with deep regret that I have to inform you of the passing or our Dear Friend, Barry. Barry Bell loved this Firm like no one else ever did. It was his life’s work, from the day he joined in 1952, and served as Company Chairman until his death. Although his health failed in the last couple of years, he held it in his heart to the very end. Only yesterday, when I went round to his house for a coffee, he was asking how we were doing, whether the government was helping or hindering, and had we got all the Christmas orders finished yet!

Funeral arrangements will be announced in due course.

Robert Bell

Christmas Countdown....

Things are back in full swing, production is 'all systems go' and we are thrilled to be welcoming customers back in to the Coffee House and Tea Rooms, Shop and St Georges Market.

The website is now ready for Christmas sales, including hampers and gifts to suit every budget. We are also allowing our customers to buy now, but with a despatch date set to a future date. (We can't guarantee specific Delivery Dates, but we certainly can control when the goods leave us, so that they arrive closer to the date when you would like them to!)

Please just search for Hampers, or look in the Christmas Section, and look out for those named after salient places in the SD Bell story, including Princetown, Wandsworth, Belmont, Ann Street, Botanic, High Street and St Georges. (The really eager among you may be interested to read all about these places, the SD Bell Story, and the history and customs of tea and coffee, in our book, Creating a Stir.)

Unlocking again....

We are pleased to confirm, after a COVID double-whammy last week, that Team A is back in the Coffee Bar, albeit serving a slightly restricted menu, and when Team B returns on Friday 30th August, we will be back to full service again!

All internet and wholesale sales and the retail shop continue as normal.

Temporary closure

Dear Customers,
Having had a single positive COVID case, our coffee shop operations were reduced to outside-only service on Wednesday this week to due to the forced isolation of a service team.
We regret now to inform you that having been notified of a second infection case, our second team has also been forced into isolation, so that the coffee shop is now closed until 8.30am on Wednesday 28th July.
All internet and wholesale sales continue as normal, and the retail shop reopens as normal at 8.30am on Monday 26th July.

Unlocking indoor hospitality, May 24th

We are thrilled to be reopening for full indoor hospitality service from Monday 24th May, with normal hours being Monday to Friday 8.30 – 4, Saturday 8.30 – 3; and Sunday 10:30 – 3.30.

We would also encourage our customers still to continue to shop online, with shipping as normal along with our 'click & collect' service. 

Covid Restriction April

As our 'dry shop' remains open for normal trading hours for packaged teas, coffees and accesories, Covid restrictions dictate that the Coffee House & Tea Rooms remain closed, with an indicative reopening date of 24th May. Our coffee trailer is still at our front door supplying hot teas, coffees and snacks. From 30th April we will be offering a small menu & outside seating area.

We would encourage our customers to continue to shop online. We will be shipping as normal along with providing our 'click & collect service.

Thank you for continuing to support SD Bell’s during this difficult time.

Stay Safe.

COVID Restrictions - February

As our 'dry shop' remains open for normal trading hours for packaged teas, coffees and accesories, Covid restrictions dictate that the Coffee House & Tea Rooms remain closed, date of reopening TBC. Our coffee trailer is still at our front door supplying hot teas, coffees and snacks.

We would encourage our customers to continue to shop online. We will be shipping as normal along with providing our 'click & collect service.

Thank you for continuing to support SD Bell’s during this difficult time.

Stay Safe.

Happy New Year to all our Customers.

Unfortunately, while the ‘dry’ shop remains open for normal trading hours for packaged teas, coffees and accessories, Covid restrictions dictate that the Coffee House and Tea Rooms remain closed until the end of January 2021, date of reopening TBC. The trailer is back at our front door for supply of hot teas, coffees and snacks.

We would encourage our customers to continue to shop on line. We will be shipping as normal. However ‘click-and-collect’ remains the most reliable method of ensuring that goods are received quickly and with a minimum of queueing.

Thank you